'Sad but not mad': Raptors fans say #ThankYouKawhi amid reports of departure
John Tory posted heartfelt video on Twitter, expressing gratitude on behalf of city
Mayor John Tory thanked Kawhi Leonard on Saturday for his part in bringing the NBA title to Toronto, amid reports that the superstar forward is leaving the Raptors for California.
In a heartfelt video posted to Twitter, Tory said Leonard brought "excitement" and "inspiration" to the city and expressed his gratitude on behalf of Raptors fans across Toronto.
Our <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/KawhiWatch?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#KawhiWatch</a> has ended. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThankYouKawhi?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ThankYouKawhi</a> for the NBA championship that you helped to bring to Toronto with your <a href="https://twitter.com/Raptors?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Raptors</a> teammates. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThanksKawhi?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ThanksKawhi</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeTheNorth?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WeTheNorth</a> <a href="https://t.co/04fVCECnIw">pic.twitter.com/04fVCECnIw</a>—@JohnTory
Less than a month after leading the Raptors to their first NBA title, Leonard is reportedly joining the Los Angeles Clippers. The California-born Leonard spent just one season with the Raps.
Frenzied speculation about what Leonard would do during the NBA's free agency period gripped basketball fans for the past week, with the hashtag #KawhiWatch dominating social media for days.
Raps fan who spoke to CBC Toronto on Saturday afternoon had mixed feelings about Leonard's reported decision to leave behind the city that elevated him to deity-like status over the past year.
"I mean I just don't get it, why would you go to the Clippers when you could have a whole country behind you?" said Gabriel Edeoghon, who thought he was going to stay in Toronto.
"But I guess he just wanted to be home and nothing beats that, right?"
Julien Sicco said he's "sad but not mad.
"He came here and gave us a championship but I wish he had stayed."
Meanwhile, Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia spoke to CBC News Network about his own feeling's on Kawhi's departure:
Raptors fans learned late Friday that Leonard would not be the only star departing for another franchise.
Forward Danny Green revealed in a video posted to Instagram that he signed a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"It's been a hell of a run, it's been a hell of a year. It's unfortunate for everybody and the city of Toronto and all Canada that we couldn't run it back" Green said.
In a follow-up post, Green thanked Raptors fans for their "love and support" over the last year.
"You are some of the greatest fans basketball has to offer."